Plots and Thoughts

The First Google Buzz Victim

Posted in Musings, Observations by Captain Optimistic on February 17, 2010

Google Buzz has a privacy problem.  Sometime blocking people doesn’t quite take. I’ve experienced this myself.  A friend of mine did as well, only in her case it was an ex-boyfriend.  An ex who now has an extensive criminal record (which includes assault).  So after she had blocked him, she posted info on a private party.  He wasn’t really blocked, so he found out.  He attended.  She eventually blocked him on Buzz after several tries, but by then the damage was done.  He then proceeded to find her on Facebook (which she has reasonably locked down).  She thus far hasn’t been able to block him there at all.
Privacy isn’t an abstract civil right, it is central to our reasonable expectations of safety within society.  Without privacy there is no security.  While my friend mulls a restraining order, I’m left wondering why Google launched such a dangerously broken product.  I’m also wondering what is going on with Facebook.  Facebook is nearly always buggy, but as with Google Buzz, those bugs can have deadly consequences for users.  Plenty of enterprise grade websites function daily without the host vital problems we see here.  These sorts of bugs are not a fact of web development, they are the result of incompetence.
Google and Facebook need to step it up before someone is hurt, and their asses land rightfully in court.

One Response

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  1. huzzah! said, on February 18, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Some of the problem is this:

    Products are rarely designed by a group representative of the ones they will serve. City streets, computer programs, [the freakin’ iPAD, what the fuck kind of genius came up with that name, hmm?], everything-our-government-has-ever-come-up-with…etc.

    I would guess that the people working on Google Buzz have never experienced stalking or domestic violence first-hand. For the most part they are probably white, male, and straight. So the sad fact here is that I would guess this is less incompetence than it is total ignorance.

    Privacy, as you’ve pointed out is a human-rights issues. It is a feminist issue, and hopefully it can eventually become a common-sense issue. The problems with Google Buzz and Facebook are not isolated incidents of corporations making stupid decisions. They are clear reflections of what happens in a society where people do not have representation within the groups that control their lives.

    If Google buzz doesn’t get it’s act together it deserves to be sued. But that’s not the solution. Ultimately we need a world where women, minorities, even feminists! were working at Google Buzz to begin with, and thus had a better chance of catching this shit before it had a chance to hurt people.

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